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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Johanna Spryri
Age Range: 9-11
This translation was first published in 1956. Orphaned, five-year-old Heidi is take by her Aunt Detie to live with her grandfather (known as 'Uncle Alp') in his remote hut high in the Swiss alps. Heidi quickly learns to love her new life with him, spending the summer days roaming the mountain slopes with Peter the goatherd and in winter visiting Peter’s blind grandmother.
Three years later, Detie returns to remove Heidi from her grandfather’s care, taking her to live in Frankfurt with the Sesemann family. Heidi becomes desperately homesick and hates living in a town. Her country ways and ignorance of etiquette and city life reduces the household to total chaos although she does befriend Mr Sesemann's daughter Clara - "an invalid who spent all her days in a wheel-chair".
Eventually, Clara’s father arranges for Heidi to return home to her grandfather. Clara goes to stay with them in the mountains and with Heidi and Peter’s help, she slowly recovers her strength and learns to walk again. Written in 1880 this complete and unabridged classic has stood the test of time, retaining much of its charm today.